Illinois Clearinghouse: Celebrating Ten Years of Data Distribution

Data from the Geospatial Data ClearinghouseThe Illinois Natural Resources Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (Illinois Clearinghouse) was first brought on-line July 1997. The Illinois Clearinghouse serves as a gateway to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing data for Illinois and provides access to topographic maps, framework orthoimagery collections, historic aerial photography, infrastructure and natural resource data, and ArcIMS interactive Map Services. The clearinghouse is a formal National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) node (one of more than 300 worldwide) that is compliant with federal Geospatial One-Stop standards.

The Illinois Clearinghouse receives enthusiastic support from the Illinois GIS user community. Last year, 140,000 visitors accessed over 2 million Illinois Clearinghouse Web pages. During its 10-year history, customers of the Illinois Clearinghouse have enjoyed on-demand access to more than 27,800 data files and 18,300 aerial photos totaling over 35 terabytes of information free of charge. The project to enable access to 2005 digital orthoimagery collections prompted requests from Google, Mapquest, Microsoft Earth, Navteq, the Nature Conservancy, the National Weather Service, and FutureGen partner agency representatives. A Web search for the key words "Illinois" and "GIS" offers the Illinois Clearinghouse as the first Web site returned by Google, Yahoo, AOL, and Ask.com. Additionally, GIS data downloads have become part of the curriculum for geography and GIS classes at several Illinois universities.

Together with the main Illinois State Geological Survey (ISGS) home page, ISGS mapping services that provide easy access to significant data holdings (such as oil and gas well data), and an e-commerce site that will be launched soon, The Illinois Clearinghouse represents one facet of the Survey's business presence on the Internet. The Illinois Clearinghouse continues to receive broad recognition from many people in Illinois, the Midwest, and the nation. To date, over $1.3 million has been dedicated to the expansion and upkeep of the Illinois Clearinghouse. Financial support to enable on-line access to Illinois data has been sustained through 40 separate grants, contracts, and student internships from Illinois state and county agencies, universities, and federal programs.